How I never, ever want to leave Ghana (today).
I have a confession, I have had this post written for nearly two weeks. I just couldn't bring myself to post it, because it meant saying goodbye to Ghana officially. I tried to post it a few times but I was too busy crying, and Ghana was actively thwarting me via internet issues. So here is goodbye- I get on a plane in 7 hours....
Even though I once thought New York was the once place I’d feel at home, from the moment I arrived there. I daydreamed about filling suitcases and hopping planes. I flirted with New York but never gave it a commitment. It was a love affair I refused to consummate, not matter what the city promised me, no matter that I
had picked it
, and not the other way around. Instead I drowned myself in all the joy and heartbreak I had brought back from India and pretended it was New York’s fault. Eventually we realized it wasn’t working out, New York and I, and I took my nomad heart elsewhere. I needed to find out if my love for my adopted home was singular, or if I would fall in love with anywhere I traveled. On a whim that I later justified by academic relevance, I packed my bags again, and arrived in Ghana.
Ghana only reminded me my heart had miles yet to go until I figured the world out. It was not an earth shaking revelation but rather snuck up on me while writing blog posts, stewing over photo assignments, and as I tried to motivate myself to at least go out and get a beer. There were flashes when I saw the Ghana my friends had fallen in love with, but even when I loved those moments it felt like cheating. If India was a love affair, we broke up after figuring it wouldn’t work long distance, but the feelings are still there. I’m not sure I can love anywhere else again; it’s ruined me for all other places. To go back to see its familiar streets felt like going home, but it also felt like stepping into a dream. It also felt like sobering up, washing my face and remembering what real life is. In hindsight, I know I did not spend the semester learning about Ghana but rather learning about myself, how to be myself, and still leave bits of me wherever I go. How to carve up chunks of my heart and leave them places so they can give me something in return, if only the feeling of having missed something. I came to Ghana to run away, to disappear and press pause on my racing heart. Since wherever you go, there you are, all I found was an insatiable desire to be everywhere at once. With too many plans and no idea where they will take me, I have taken these past few months to remind myself of all the things I had forgotten since I left that small town north of Boston. Some people go home to locate themselves, and to remember home; I went to Africa.
Seems right to me. Ghana changed how I thought about myself, how I contextualized myself. In the eye of the hurricane, on the cusp on coming and going, ko bra
, I stand on the wreckage of my former self. I remember this feeling all too well, knowing that you’ve changed but not knowing how, that breathless anticipation of returning combined with the ache of leaving a life that you absolutely cannot go back to. Its bittersweet but mostly it is addicting, beguiling you with exotic images of the things you have seen while causing you to confidently forget for just a moment all the small wrenchings of the heart that one experiences when living elsewhere. Compared to the biggest wrenching of all, the tearing of the new you from your current context, every moment of boredom and sadness disappears, and you are left with a glow constructed of every happy memory, of new friendships and days drunk on sunlight, nights just drunk. The glow of feeling down to your soul of sheer wonder and exhilaration of everything
, everything new and everything possible, every time you step on and off a plane. That glow has become my addiction; it the particular shade of limelight that matches my pale complexion.
Before I came to Ghana, my concept of myself was narrow, limited. This semester has put me in my place, rightfully, with far less self-importance and far more wonder. About to step back onto a plane, rocketing toward my old life, I am drunk on wild possibility. This time, I want to make it last, take it back with me and grow it in the greenhouse of my soul, let the sun and make it grow instead of locking it back into myself. When I came back from India, I was so scared; of what, I am still not sure. Of being too different, of losing identity in order to gain a new one. Now, suitcases packed and out on the sidewalk, I am laying claim to my wandering heart and feet, which will lead me to new continents and a new selves. Beverly gave me a base to stand on, India gave me my locomotion; Ghana may give me my wings. Maybe I won’t know what Ghana has given me until I arrive in Buenos Aires, seasoned study abroad student and travel extraordinaire. Or maybe I’ll have the wind knocked out of me and replaced with the Spanish languages, and I’ll start the process of confusion again in Prague. Locust, nomad, tornado, I am whirling through the world and coming to rest only when I have spent my dervish energy, and I refuse to look behind me. As Kwame Nkrumah said, ever forward, never backward. Now, going backward and forward at the same time, my impulse is both to hold on tight and jump into the fray.
The picture is mine, from the final group trip to Wli Falls.